An exciting invitation recently came through – well, I’d like to say the post, in a gilt-edged envelope – but of course that probably only happens if the Queen has invited one. Anyway, it popped into my Inbox, and was from my publisher, Iain Dale of Biteback Publishing. He founded the Paddy Power Political Book Awards last year (before I was published) and so being a Biteback author, though not political, I was invited to attend.
What a fantastic evening! The awards were held at the British Film Institute IMAX just below Waterloo Bridge. The taxi couldn’t take me right to the door, so I stumbled along in highish heels down the walkway under the bridge and over the pedestrian road and through the glazed doors of the cinema. I was warmly welcomed with a glass of (proper) champagne and directed up to a very large room where hundreds of people had already gathered.
The noise level almost knocked me backwards. At first, I couldn’t make out anyone. People were standing practically shoulder to shoulder, and everyone seemed to know everyone. I walked round the room three times trying to spot my host, Iain, but although he usually stands out, being very tall, I couldn’t see him or any other Biteback members of staff.
I noticed a pretty blonde girl standing at the edge of the room with her drink and went up to her. We got chatting, and guess what? She was a writer from my favourite magazine, The Lady. She’s taken my card and is hopeful that my book Seller Beware: How Not To Sell Your Business might tie in with an appropriate feature coming out soon.
I hobnobbed with Ann Widdecombe and Mary Beard which was very exciting, and then my editor introduced me to an agent who’s read the first three chapters of my novel and has asked for the full manuscript. She was absolutely charming. I’d love her to represent me. We had a really nice chat, though she’s not yet got round to reading the rest of my novel, what with the London Book Fair looming. She’s promised to do so as soon as she can, but at least I’ve met her in person – always a Very Good Thing.
The awards, in several categories, were very exciting, and one of my favourite authors, Michael Dobbs, won the political fiction book of the year. We had a chat afterwards and I reminded him that he’d given a talk at my club, the University Women’s Club, and he’d signed his latest book at the time for me. He was very pleased when I told him I’ve had a book published since then. I gave him a bookmark which has the same blurb on the back as the actual book, and was thrilled when he read it, then put in his pocket. Another customer?
Two minutes later a gorgeous-looking woman came and chatted to me. She led me to the bar where delicious bowls of food were set out, and as we were tucking in I found out she is a journalist, presenter and interviewer. She was fascinated with my story when I sold my estate agency business to the wrong buyers. She kept introducing me to minor politicians (at least, I’d never heard of them) and telling them about me. I wanted to giggle as their eyes glazed over. Most politicians are not one scrap interested in business, but that didn’t deter her. She said I should be on Woman’s Hour and all sorts of business programmes, and she’s going to try to do something to get me some publicity, and suggested we keep in touch. I shall, don’t worry! When I got home and went on to her website I nearly fainted. She’s a real high flyer, and very much respected in the news world, both nationally and internationally.
‘More champagne, madam?’ asked the waiter. ‘Oh, yes, please!’
Oh, I nearly forgot. I came away with a goody bag containing two of the shortlisted books, a tiny bottle of gin, and a pair of bright rainbow coloured shoelaces from Paddy Power himself!
All right, maybe nothing will come of any of all this, but it was certainly fun meeting such an interesting and diverse group of people, and you never know…